Average private rents up in most areas across Scotland

The average cost of renting a standard-sized private home has increased in all areas of Scotland apart from one, according to new figures.

Private Sector Rent Statistics, Scotland, 2010 to 2016:

Average private rents up in most areas across Scotland

Statistics released yesterday by the Scottish Government revealed that 17 out of 18 areas of Scotland saw increases in average rent levels for 2 bedroom private rental properties between 2015 and 2016, ranging from 4.6 per cent in West Dunbartonshire to 0.1 per cent in Dumfries and Galloway.

Aberdeen and Shire saw a decrease of 13.7 per cent, the largest annual drop in average 2 bedroom rents since the data series began in 2010, and which is likely to reflect decreased demand for rental properties following the downturn in the oil industry. These regional trends combine to show a 1.0 per cent increase in average 2 bedroom rents at a Scotland level, the lowest annual increase since 2010.

Over the longer 6 year period from 2010 to 2016, the areas of Lothian, Greater Glasgow and Aberdeen and Shire have all seen 2 bedroom average rents increase above the rate of inflation over the full length of this time period, with all other areas of Scotland seeing cumulative rent increases below the rate of inflation.

The following main findings are based on rent levels from 2010 to 2016 for 2 bedroom properties because these are the most prevalent size of property in the private rented sector.

Over the five year period from 2010 to 2016, the Lothian area has seen the highest increase in private rents for 2 bedroom properties, with average monthly rents rising by 25.1 per cent(cumulative increase over 6 years). Average rents in the Greater Glasgow area have risen by a cumulative 23.5 per cent, whilst rents in Aberdeen and Shire have increased by 17.4 per cent over the full 2010 to 2016 period, despite rents in this area falling by 13.7 per cent on an annual basis between 2015 and 2016.

For the remaining areas of Scotland, cumulative increases over the last 6 years have ranged from 11.4 per cent (Highlands and Islands) to 1.2 per cent (West Dunbartonshire), with a decrease of 0.2 per cent being seen in the Ayrshires. These regional trends combine to show a 14.8 per cent cumulative increase in average rents from 2010 to 2016 for 2 bedroom properties at the Scotland level.

For the year to end-September 2016, Lothian had the highest average monthly rents for 2 bedroom properties across Scotland (£831). Other areas with high rents included Aberdeen and Shire (£754), Greater Glasgow (£696), and East Dunbartonshire (£636). Areas with the lowest average rents for 2 bedroom properties included Dumfries and Galloway (£447),Scottish Borders (£452), and the Ayrshires (£463).

Figures on changes to rents between 2010 and 2016 should be considered in the context of the cumulative increase in the UK Consumer Price Index of 12.6 per cent from Sept-10 to Sept-16. Between Sept-15 and Sept-16, the UK Consumer Price Index increased by 1.0 per cent.

Kevin Stewart MSP
Kevin Stewart MSP

Housing minister Kevin Stewart said:“We are committed to ensuring the private rented sector remains an attractive and affordable housing option for tenants.

“Our Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016, which passed earlier this year, will provide more security, stability and predictability for 700,000 tenants in Scotland. This Act will transform the private rented sector, creating a more modern tenancy, bring stability to the sector and helping to meet Scotland’s housing needs. It also allows local authorities to be able to introduce rent caps in hot spot areas, where they feel there is a need, and this can include any areas which have seen above inflation rises.

“These statistics show that rent for two bedroom private rents in Scotland increased by 1.0 per cent in the latest year, this is the smallest annual increase since this information started to be collected in 2010. Also, one and three bedroom properties rose by less than inflation in most parts of Scotland from 2010 to 2016.

“In addition, we are increasing the number of affordable homes in Scotland with our pledge to deliver 50,000 more affordable homes, with 35,000 available for social rent, over the next five years, backed up with investment of more than £3 billion. This is in addition to the 30,000 affordable homes delivered in the last parliamentary term.”

Andy Wightman MSP, housing spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, said the figures underline the need for “bold action to address Scotland’s housing crisis”.

He added: “Home ownership is out of reach for far too many people, leaving private renting as the only option. As we can see, rents have soared in pressured areas such as Lothian and we must look at rent controls to prevent people either being priced out of a suitable home or forced into poverty in order to pay their bills.

“There remains a fundamental need to build more homes in Scotland and make those homes available to buy or rent at genuinely affordable prices. As we approach discussions about the 2017 Scottish budget we will be arguing for a strong commitment from the Scottish Government to invest in new housing.”

Scottish Labour claimed that the figures exposed an acute shortage of housing across the country and challenged the government to make further allowances for housebuilding in the next budget.

Housing spokeswoman Pauline McNeill said: “The SNP has turned a housing shortage into a full blown housing crisis, and that means tenants have faced rocketing rents in recent years.

“We need bold and radical action on housing. Investing in housing will give people access to skills and apprenticeships that create jobs and cut poverty.

“That is why the SNP should bring forward an ambitious programme for investment in the Scottish budget for housebuilding.

“Scottish ministers have promised 50,000 affordable homes, 35,000 for social rent, and Labour will work with them to deliver this if they are willing to use the powers to invest. Good intentions will not tackle Scotland’s housing crisis.

“SNP MSPs face a choice, they can accept an austerity budget with the Tories, or they can work with Labour to invest.”

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